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Local man to be inducted into NCCAA Hall of Fame

Gary Bailey, the Grace Christian University’s men’s basketball Head Coach and Athletic Director, has been announced as an inductee to the 2021 class of the National Christian College Athletic Association Hall of Fame. 

Bailey, a long-time Cedar Springs resident, was inducted into Grace’s Hall of Fame in 2013 for his winning record, and now will be honored on the national level.

Beyond his coaching accolades, which include 335 wins (most all-time at Grace) and 6 National Championships, the recognition is also a reflection of Bailey’s impact within the NCCAA in mentoring other schools and serving in volunteer leadership positions within the organization for the past two decades. Bailey joins Dr. Rick Wright from Manhattan Christian College (KS) in the class of 2021, as they enter a Hall of Fame that currently consists of 61 other members for an NCCAA organization that has had a rich history since its inception in 1968. 

“Gary Bailey has been a great influence on coaches, staff, and so many students who participated in athletics in any way here at Grace Christian University,” said Grace President Dr. Ken Kemper. “He’s led a coaching staff in basketball and other sports to prioritize godly character building in the lives of those at Grace which will transcend their playing days and make better men, women, spouses, parents, Christ-followers, and citizens. This is a well-deserved recognition by a National organization which is committed to athletics for the glory of God and serving others. We could not be more proud of Gary and congratulate him and his always faithful wife Danette.” 

When Bailey started with Grace, it was just supposed to be temporary.

“When I started coaching, it was really just filling in until they did a coaching search at Grace Christian University. Somehow it turned into a career,” Bailey told the Post in a written statement. “My goals were always to help my student athletes to learn about life more than basketball. Getting an honor like this was never even a thought. Grace Christian University has been so wonderful to me and my family. The honor of the Hall of Fame only has my name on it but it is truly all of my assistant coaches, the players that have played for me and the entire GCU family.  I am pretty humbled by all of this.”

The official induction ceremony will take place at the Hall of Fame Dinner on June 3, 2021 during the annual NCCAA Convention in Virginia Beach, VA. 

See the original press release and find more info on Gary Bailey’s accomplishments at gracetigers.com.

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Maddie Brown named NCAA player of the week

Maddie Brown, a Grace Bible College sophomore from Cedar Springs, Michigan, and graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, has been named Student Athlete of the Week by the NCCAA for her performance in the Tigers’ season-opening week of women’s soccer.
Brown scored the Tigers’ first ever goal against Aquinas College to take a 1-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 defeat on Tuesday night. Brown then scored 2 goals to lead Grace Bible College in a 4-2 win over Holy Cross College. On the week, Brown had 10 shots with 8 on goal.

Maddie is the daughter of Pastor Chad and Tracy Brown, of Cedar Springs.

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Dan George honored by NCCAA

Dan George with Ben Belleman, NCCAA Director of Member Relations.

Dan George, Cedar Springs resident and Associate Head Coach for the Grace Bible College men’s basketball team, was honored with the NCCAA Game Plan 4 Life Award this past week in Louisville, KY. This is the highest honor given to an athletics staff member in the NCCAA at the end of each year. Here he is shown with Grace Head Coach Gary Bailey.

Dan George, Grace Bible College’s Associate Head Coach for men’s basketball, was honored Thursday night, June 1, at the National Christian College Athletic Association’s National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, with the “Game Plan for Life Athletic Staff Character Award.” It is the highest honor given by the NCCAA to athletic staff and is awarded to one male and one female athletic staff member in the nation each year. Dan is the only assistant coach to receive the award in its history. The purpose of the award is to honor athletic staff members who epitomize the Christian character qualities of Love, Integrity, Faith, and Excellence. Dan has served Grace with Head Coach Gary Bailey in a program that has won 10 regional championships and 5 national championships during that time. But the GP4L award is prestigious because of its emphasis on more than winning games. It honors those who have a lasting impact on people they serve.

In nominating Coach George for this award, Coach Bailey said, “Dan agreed to be an assistant coach for a year in which I took the job for one season to help them [Grace] out while they looked for their full time coach. That one year has turned into 12 (and going) and Dan has come along side each and every year in leadership of this team.  He is the only assistant coach in the Grace Athletic Hall of Fame. Dan has invested in kids and students’ lives for over 40 years working in either college or K-12 school settings. He currently is the Superintendent at a local charter school [Creative Technologies Academy]. He has served on numerous boards including his home church and Pineview Homes, a home for abused, neglected and delinquent boys for 42 years.  A year ago Dan started a chapter of Polestar Outdoors in west Michigan, a national organization that mentors youth in the outdoors. He is very active in other community service projects in and around his home town of Cedar Springs, Michigan.”

Dan is also a good role model for the players. “He is the ultimate ‘lead by example’ man,” said former player Caleb Combs. “Although many coaches and teachers will often get caught in the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality, Dan walks the walk. This is evident not only while he is on the court, but more importantly, off the court.”

Grace President Ken Kemper spoke about the difference that Dan has made. “Dan has full time employment elsewhere, and volunteers an enormous amount of time to mentor and work with the young men on our campus. His love for the game, and even more so, his love for ministering to young men through the game of basketball has made a huge impact on many young men and their families.”

Finally, long time coaching rival and NCCAA National Chair for men’s basketball, Jon Mack, whose University of Valley Forge teams lost in three national championship games to Gary Bailey and the Grace Tigers, had this to say about Dan George:  “I have been privileged to compete against Dan George and the Grace Bible College Men’s Basketball team over the past decade. Many of those competitions were for NCCAA national and regional championships. Although we have been winless in postseason competition against Grace Bible College, I have personally experienced great spiritual victories that have shaped my faith and purpose with God through the direct and indirect influence from Coach Dan George. Coach George has reflected love, integrity, faith, and excellence regardless of the result. It is very evident that the central focus of his heart is Christ and it’s reflected in how he influences people. I have personally experienced his love for me by his encouraging words during discouraging moments in my life over the past years, including the present. I am forever grateful to Coach George for his eternal investment in my life through the game we call basketball.”

Congratulations, Dan, and thank you for the impact you make on the community around you!

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Cedar Springs duo leads Tigers to regional championship

Two Cedar Springs men, Gary Bailey (right) and Dan George (left) are the head coach and assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids. Last weekend they celebrated their ninth regional championship.

Two Cedar Springs men, Gary Bailey (right) and Dan George (left) are the head coach and assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids. Last weekend they celebrated their ninth regional championship.

Gary Bailey, Dan George continue to build Grace basketball tradition

Two Cedar Springs men continue to build the basketball tradition at Grace Bible College—winning nine regional championships in 11 years of coaching. But the twist in the tale is this: in the beginning, they didn’t intend for the coaching jobs to be permanent.

When Gary Bailey, of Cedar Springs, took over as head coach of the Grace Bible College men’s basketball team in 2005, his intention was to take the job for a year. His son, Kirby, was a senior and an All-American for the Tigers, and Bailey saw his role as a transition one for that one year. He called his former college coach and long time friend, Dan George, currently school leader and superintendent at Creative Technologies Academy, and asked him to be his assistant.

Reflecting on that request, Dan explains, “I said, OK, I’ll do it for a year.” But the Tigers surprised everyone that first year, transforming a mid-season mediocre record to an overtime regional championship victory, and then went on to shock the national tournament’s #2, #3, and #1 seeds in successive games and won the national championship on a last second buzzer beater tip in by former Cedar Springs High School player, Jimmy Booth.

I think we got hooked,” says Dan, with a smile, “so we decided to hang around for more than that one year.”

The Grace Bible Tigers celebrated winning the regional championship last weekend, and are poised to win it all this season.

The Grace Bible Tigers celebrated winning the regional championship last weekend, and are poised to win it all this season.

One year has been extended to 11 and the two show no signs of retirement, yet. This past Saturday, the Tigers won their ninth regional championship in those 11 years with a dominant 79-49 win over Maranatha Baptist University. Bailey was named regional coach of the year for the seventh time to go with two national coach of the year awards and the prestigious Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan College Coach of the Year in 2011.

Bailey and George added a run of four consecutive national championships in 2009-2012, which included a streak of 69 consecutive NCCAA victories, a record that most people in the NCCAA say will never be broken, and brought their total to five rings in 10 years, and this year’s Tigers appear poised to challenge for a sixth.

The Tigers have become a highly respected small college program with a reputation of a willingness to play anyone, anywhere, and being competitive when they do. Signature wins in the last eleven years include victories over Ferris State University, Davenport University, Cornerstone University, and perennial MIAA powerhouses Calvin College and Hope College.

Although the small school does not give athletic scholarships, their schedule annually includes a number of high profile programs that do give athletic scholarships, and Bailey and his coaches have been able to assemble and develop some outstanding talent in the last 11 years. This year’s schedule included Coastal Carolina University, an NCAA Division 1 national tournament team last year, several NCAA Division II schools, including two in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Grand Valley State University, Northern Michigan University, and Saginaw Valley State University, and several NAIA programs. The Tigers also played a preliminary game at the Palace of Auburn Hills on the night the Pistons retired Chauncey Billups’ jersey. The guarantees provided by playing these larger schools help fund the Tigers’ ambitious travel schedule and the tough schedule helps them attract and develop talent that other schools have overlooked.

One of those overlooked players was Allen Durham who played high school ball at Wyoming Park High School, won three national championships at Grace, spent most of this year with the Dallas Mavericks organization, and is now starring in professional play in France. Most of Grace’s high profile games are played early in the season and toughen the Tigers in preparation for the very difficult NCCAA games and end of the year tournaments.

There is little doubt that the success of the men’s basketball program has had an impact off the court as well. The college was recently recognized as the fastest growing Bible college in the United States. The coaching staff has also emphasized community service and the team tackles several projects a year. One of their favorites is an annual visit to Pineview Homes, a home for delinquent, abused, and neglected boys in Evart, Michigan. Each Christmas season, the Tigers spend several hours with the boys in an afternoon and then attend their Christmas party and dinner. Pineview Director Paul Derscheid, says it is something the boys talk about weeks before in anticipation and months afterward they are still wearing their autographed Grace shirts.

Both coaches are members of the Grace Athletic Hall of Fame with Bailey being inducted in 2013 and George being inducted in 2014. While acknowledging satisfaction in the accomplishments and appreciation for the awards and recognition, Bailey is quick to give credit to those who have assisted in this journey.

For George, it is more than the rings and thrill of championships that keeps him going. “It’s the relationships you build along the way, with fellow coaches, with players, and even opponents,” says Dan, “and it’s the opportunity to mentor and influence young men in the things that are more important than basketball.”

Bailey echoes that sentiment. “Our rewards are far beyond wins and losses. It’s the opportunity to see young men develop on and off the court, and become outstanding husbands, fathers, and contributors to society.”

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Algoma Christian grad makes athlete of the week

Charisa Becker, an Algoma Christian grad and freshman at Grace Bible college, was named student-athlete of the week in Div. II by the NCCAA.

Charisa Becker, an Algoma Christian grad and freshman at Grace Bible college, was named student-athlete of the week in Div. II by the NCCAA.

Charisa Becker

Charisa Becker

Charisa Becker, a woman’s soccer player from Grace Bible College, was named Div. II student athlete of the week by the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) last week.

Becker, a 2015 Algoma Christian grad, scored the game tying goal in a 1-1 tie with Andrews University on October 22, and played solid defense throughout the match. The freshman defender/goalkeeper from Algoma Township was sent forward late in the game and responded by beating the Andrews keeper after a nice move in the penalty area. On Saturday, October 24, Charisa stepped into the goal and held a tough Cleary team to 2 goals, making 10 saves along the way.

Becker is the daughter of Tod and Rebecca Becker, of Algoma Township.

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Grace Bible College wins third straight national title

Coach Gary Bailey of Cedar Springs named coach of the year

Grace Bible College won its third consecutive NCCAA II national championship and the fourth in six years in Springfield, Missouri Saturday night with a 76-56 drubbing of Valley Forge Christian College.  The championship game was a rematch of the 2009 title game which Grace won by 2 points.

Grace’s head coach, Gary Bailey, and assistant coach, Dan George, are Cedar Springs residents.  George was Bailey’s college coach 32 years ago and the two have been teamed up at Grace for the last six years.  “It has been an amazing run, especially these last three years,” said Dan George.  “It kind of started two years ago when we beat Ferris State University on their floor.  People started paying attention to tiny Grace.”

Gary Bailey was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year for the fourth consecutive year and he was named National Coach of the Year for the second time, previously winning the honor in 2009.

Team accomplishments this year included:

•    Victories over Calvin College and Hope College in their tournaments with Grace winning both tournaments

•    Leading NAIA Champion Cornerstone University by 16 at halftime before falling to the Golden Eagles on a buzzer beating three-pointer.

•    Setting a new school record for victories in a season (breaking the 30-8 record they set in 2009) with a record of 31-7.

•    Expanding their record setting NCCAA II winning streak to 58 in a row.  The Tigers have not lost an NCCAA II game in three years and they have been ranked #1 in the country since January of 2009.

This year’s tournament run began at the Midwest Regionals in Chicago where Grace dominated Emmaus, Northland International University, and Lincoln Christian University and moved on to the National Tournament in Springfield, Missouri last week as the #1 seed.  The Tigers handled #8 Kentucky Christian University on Thursday, 74-53, but survived a scare from #4 Dallas Christian on Friday night.  Grace trailed by 13 at halftime before fighting back and winning in overtime, 69-67.  The Tigers built a 13 point lead at the half of the championship game against Valley Forge and expanded it to as much as 27 points in the second half before Bailey emptied his bench to give all his players an opportunity to contribute.

Allen Durham (Wyoming Park) was named Tournament MVP and winner of the Maravich Award as NCCAA II Player of the Year.  Durham and Cory Jamieson (Wayland) were named All-Americans.

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